The 49ers might be turning toward a familiar foe to run their defense next season. According to ESPN’s Mike Garafolo, San Francisco interviewed Chiefs defensive backs coach Dave Merritt for their defensive coordinator job.

Merritt is the fourth coach on the public list of candidates for the 49ers. He joins former Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, and internal candidates Nick Sorensen and Daniel Bullocks.

It makes sense that the 49ers would want to tap Kansas City’s defensive staff to find their next DC. Merritt played linebacker in the NFL and spent time as a college coach coaching linebackers and defensive line. He was also a linebackers coach for the New York Jets as his first NFL job in 2001. Merritt jumped to the Giants in 2004 as a defensive assistant and quality control coach. The Giants promoted him to secondary coach in 2006 and he stayed there through the 2018 campaign. Merritt joined the Chiefs staff in 2019 after one season as the Cardinals defensive backs coach.

His latest stint under Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo was his third. He also worked under Spagnuolo when he was the Giants’ DC from 2007-08 and 2015-17.

The 49ers have been adamant they don’t want to change their scheme too much, so Merritt will have to convince head coach Kyle Shanahan that he’s capable of operating the defense Shanahan wants to run. Spagnuolo runs a sound 4-3 system that utilizes a ton of coverage and blitz disguises to throw off offenses. That’s not something the 49ers have done a ton of, but it could be a nice wrinkle to add to an already strong foundation.


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